Category Archives: Songs

RIP Michael Johnson

today’s post comes to us from tim.

i was a huge fan of michael johnson’s rooty toot toot to the moon and other on his there is a breeze album in 1972.

he encompassed all the attributes of the ideal performer. great ability, great artistic sense, very pleasant personality. I saw him play in a small auditorium at normandale jr college ( full house was probably 60.) ansd at the guthrie and then i think i saw him a time or two at orchestra hall the day after christmas in kind of a celebration of one more year and we are still here. even when he moved to nashville and was having reasonable success as a singer songwriter he considered minneapolis st paul his home

he was originally from denver but was so loved in the twin cities that he felt this was his true home. a year ago I saw him play at the dakota which is a wonderful small intimate club downtown and it was great. he forgot a few lines and was embarrassed by it but getting old is part of the deal. I saw him play at the hopkins theater a he was as much into telling stories about his life and observations as he was about playing the next song. I had told my daughter emma that i wanted to have her take classes from him at mcnalley smith in stage presence. i took a master class from him at mac phail and was very impressed with his gentle direction and basically the philosophy that when you perform you are offer your audience a gift. once i heard him say that i understood why i enjoyed his stage presence so much. that was it.

when I thought of how I would like to be seen when on stage he is what I came up with.

who are some role models you’d want to emulate?



Thursday night we attended the 11th annual Minnesota Orchestra Concert down by Lake Winona, which officially opens the 2017 Beethoven Festival. It was a delightful concert, and got me thinking about some differences between Outdoor and Indoor Concerts:


  1. There may be a little rain an hour prior to concert, but hey, it blows over. (This has happened for the past two years.) The breeze makes the musicians find a way to secure their music to the stand.
  2. You bring your own chairs (or blanket), a picnic supper, and have a glass of beer/wine if you are discreet.
  3. The orchestra is seated on a platform, and you are on the ground below, so for the most part you can only see the string players. (It would be a good idea for the horns to stand when they have a prominent part, but I haven’t told them this yet.)
  4. A little girl in a green dress runs around (and around…) her parents’ chairs during the Tchaikowsky Polonaise (and beyond). Kids are swinging as high as they can on the adjacent playground, while the orchestra plays three of Dvorak’s Slavonic Dances.
  5. You can kick of your shoes and let your feet feel the grass.
  6. You get to watch a really cool sunset while listening to the music.
  7. You can hum along with John Williams’ Raiders of the Lost Ark theme and no one minds.
  8. If you see someone you know, you can wave wildly, and easily find them after the concert ends.


  1. Weather is not an issue once you are in the venue. Musicians’ music usually stays put on its stand.
  2. You have prepaid seating; refreshments can be purchased at Intermission, and must be consumed before returning to the auditorium.
  3. The venue is designed so that much of the audience is looking down on the performers, and can see most of the players.
  4. Children are regularly hushed and shushed throughout the concert, and will run around only at Intermission.
  5. It’s probably best to leave your shoes on your feet… they’re hard to find in the dark if you need them.
  6. The lights will go down when the music starts playing, and you will sit in the dark.
  7. If you talk or sing during the concert, you will most likely get stern looks from those around you.
  8. If you see someone you know, give a polite wave and hope they see you; perhaps you will find each other in the milling crowd at Intermission 

When and where was the last outdoor performance you remember attending?

The Voices In Our Heads

One of my tasks as a therapist is to help clients identify and manage the unhelpful, irrational, automatic thoughts that can lead to anxiety and depression. Some of these thoughts are easy to identify. Others play in our heads without our being really aware they are there. Even so, those thoughts are powerful and can lead to a lot of misery.

I am often beset with such thoughts myself, and they cause me lots of anxiety. I know exactly where they come from, too. My mother.  I picked up from her what I call “We are all going to die in the ditch” thoughts that nag at me with the worry that bad things are just around the corner, and you can never relax or trust that things won’t get worse.

My mom was justified in developing this mentality. Her life was a series of hopes that turned into disasters–she meets the young man will marry, and then the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and he goes away and she doesn’t see him again until 1945. Once he is back and they finally get on their feet financially, their apartment is destroyed by a fire.  They start a family, and her appendix ruptures at seven months gestation and she loses the child and is in the hospital for months. She gets healthy again and develops MS.  After that, things went quite well for her and there were no more disasters, but the salience of those disasters stayed with her and left her assuming the worst and waiting for the next disaster to happen.  Her thoughts just oozed into my brain and it is quite a trick to combat them

I listen to the Broadway station on our car radio, and I heard two songs recently that made me realize that there are sources all around us for unhealthy and self-defeating  thoughts. I am using YouTube clips so as to avoid any rannygazoo with copyrights.  Listen to the lyrics and ponder the unhealthy messages.

Whose voices are in your head?  Whose voice would be more helpful?  

High School

Today’s post come from Steve Grooms

I was listening recently to the funny, evocative song “High School” by Pat Donohue. Readers probably know it. The song played often on the Late Great Morning Show.  Here are a few lines:

Full of wise guys and zeros and basketball heroes

Who taunt me

That was my school

Full of cheerleader cuties and homecoming beauties

Who haunt me

With tough guys who fright me and girls who don’t like me

Just that I’m not their sort

Back in high school

I’m glad I’m not there any more


sg on high school date


The song was a reminder of how high school was nightmarish for me. I was shy. In my eyes, I didn’t fit in with my classmates. I loved outdoor recreation partly because it didn’t involve the social interactions I found so troubling at school.

I have worked out a story to describe my high school years, a story that I share with friends and family members. In short form, my story has been that only two kinds of kids at school scared me: the boys and the girls. I feared the boys because I wasn’t an athlete and some of the kids were pretty scary. I feared the girls because I was so unsure of myself with them. Given the choice of trying to talk to a girl or going fishing, I strongly preferred fishing. My story goes on to say I was too shy to date anyone. My experience of high school was a lot like the story Pat Donohue told in his song.

Recently, however, I’ve experienced an uncomfortable clash between my story and evidence that I wasn’t such a misfit after all. When I attended the 50th reunion of my class, a lot of people remembered me and acted as if they had liked me. Before I lost my box of old family photos, several of them showed me dressed up for dates. I must not have been as shy as I have been claiming, for I was photographed dating on several different occasions.

Now I struggle to resolve these clashing images. I considered my high school years a botch, a time when I hid from other kids and lived almost entirely inside my head. Evidence now says I was actually fairly popular and could have been more so if I hadn’t spent so much time fishing. Now I feel about high school the way I feel about most of my life: it sure could have been better, and I’d like a second chance at it to do it better, but on the whole it wasn’t so bad.

How do you remember your experience of high school?

christmastime oh christmastime

Today’s post comes from tim

in the words of the old charlie brown tune.

christmastime oh christmastime

how i wish that you were mine

every year you come around

and i always feel the same

christmastime oh christmastime

im so glad that you are mine

every year all over town

we all do sing your name

the feeling it inspires is hopeful

everyone agrees

the warmth and love that it invokes

is what impresses me

no need wondering why it is

lets just say our thanks

in a world where too much stinks

christmas love does rank

if we all enjoy this time

all december through

maybe we can brace ourselves

the end will be too soon


how can you remain in the moment



The Cruel War

Photo of Frances Clalin Clayton By Samuel Masury – Public Domain

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Robbinsdale

Last Sunday I came upon this article in the Minnesota History segment of the Mpls. Star Tribune – it’s about a St. Paul woman, Frances Clalin Clayton, who followed her husband into the Civil War in 1861, pretending to be his brother. Frances saw her husband killed a few paces in front of her during fighting in Tennessee – “charged over his body… driving the rebels with the bayonet.” There are varying reports of how her identity was ultimately revealed.

After Frances was discharged, she lost her papers and money to Confederate guerrillas on a train, and apparently spent some of her remaining life trying to collect money she was owed for her and her husbands’ service.

To maintain a convincing masculine identity, “Frances Clayton took up all the manly vices. To better conceal her sex, she learned to drink, smoke, chew, and swear. She was especially fond of cigars. She even gambled, and a fellow soldier declared that he had played poker with her on a number of occasions.”  —DeAnne Blanton and Lauren M. Cook, They Fought Like Demons, 2003

I was immediately reminded, as I read the article, of two songs that were surely played on TLGMS (the late, great Morning Show, the radio program that brought many of us to this blog).

  1. From Peter Paul and Mary’s version of The Cruel War:                        I’ll tie back my hair,                                                                                                       men’s clothing I’ll put on                                                                                           I‘ll pass as your comrade,                                                                                                as we march along                                                                                                           I’ll pass as your comrade                                                                                                 no one will ever know                                                                                           Won’t you let me go with you?                                                                                   No, my love, no

  1. And a traditional song, though not about the Civil War, was sung by Sally Rogers on her first album The Unclaimed Pint: “(When I Was) A Fair Maid”, lyrics here.

For what event have you been willing to “cross-dress”?